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Sandiganbayan postpones plunder trial of Enrile, others due to broken TV monitor

A broken television monitor prompted the Sandiganbayan on Thursday to postpone the plunder and graft trial against former Senate President Juan Ponce Enrile and other accused on the alleged misuse of pork barrel or discretionary funds.

The anti-graft court allowed the motion of lawyer Rony Garay, counsel for another accused Janet Napoles, to temporarily call off the trial after the defense team was provided only with a laptop for examining the witnesses testifying online from La Union province.

The big television monitor which should serve as reference of the defense during the trial was found not working.

“We move to cancel today’s hearing, your honor. Since this concerns comparison of the documents, the small monitor will not be sufficient,” Garay said, referring to the judicial affidavits of the prosecution witnesses.

State prosecutor Jennifer Agustin-Se objected to the postponement, arguing that the postponement would entail additional preparation for the prosecution.  She said another set of witnesses from La Union will testify on the March 16 hearing.

“We object [to the postponement], your honors. COA (Commission on Audit) only allowed us to use this venue for today and March 16, your honors,” Se said.

Sandiganbayan Third Division Associate Justice Bernelito Fernandez, however, sided with Garay on the postponement.

“Although the prosecution is ready to present the witnesses, it would not be fair for the defense if we will proceed with the trial today due to unavailability...due to a technical problem that is beyond everyone’s control. The court is inclined to postpone the hearing on another day requiring the witness to appear on the said day,” Fernandez said.

“You make the necessary arrangements because we don’t want to encounter a technical problem while we are in the process of hearing the testimonies of the witnesses, ”Fernandez added.

The prosecution eventually submitted to the position of the anti-graft court and agreed to present the said witnesses on March 16.

Lawyer Estelito Mendoza, counsel for Enrile in the plunder case, reminded that the prosecution has committed to finish its presentation of evidence and witnesses by end of March.

“Senator Enrile is 99 years old, I am 93 years old. We cannot continue coming to this court unless we have a date [on] when the prosecution will rest [its case] and we can move on to complete the trial of this case,” Mendoza said.

“We are prepared to waive cross examination on these witnesses,” Mendoza added.

Fernandez took note of Mendoza’s manifestation and added “with the hope that you will have more birthdays to come.”—LDF, GMA Integrated News